The Provincetown school system is considering changing its controversial new policy of making free condoms available to all students, even younger elementary schoolers, the school board chairman said today.
“I guess the biggest thing [generating controversy] is that it’s for elementary school kids, but where do we draw the line?” said School Committee Chairman Peter Grosso. “We’re going to revisit it." He said discussion would likely center around setting a minimum age for eligibility.
The decision to reconsider the policy comes after Governor Deval Patrick called School Superintendent Beth Singer today, requesting clarification of the rule, Grosso said. The superintendent then called Grosso to tell him the schools would have to change the policy, he said.
"The governor has spoken to the superintendent and expressed his belief that they should revise the policy to make it consistent with practices in other communities," Patrick spokesman Juan Martinez said in a statement. "While he knows it is a local decision, the governor is very concerned about Provincetown's program. It is simply not age appropriate to have a program in place for such young children, not to mention not having parents of such young children involved."
The policy provided that all students would be able to get free condoms. It required school officials to keep student requests secret and to ignore parents' objections, the Globe reported today.
For the policy to change, Singer would have to submit a revised plan to the School Committee, Grosso said. A majority of the five-member committee would then have to approve the plan for it to take effect, as scheduled, next fall.
Grosso said he would not approve a plan that limited condom availability to the high school, which serves seventh- to 12th-graders.
"Not at all," he said. The policy would "have to go lower than that, because we all know kids are sexually active before high school."
He said he would "probably be comfortable" with a policy that made condoms available only to fifth-graders and older.
"I think it's a great policy to begin with," he said. "I can't believe the reaction it's getting."
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